Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore joined Kelly Slater as first round casualties on a day of upsets at the world surfing tour event in Rio.
Australian surfing big guns Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore face sudden-death heats after an opening round of upsets at the world tour event in Rio.
Men’s world champion Fanning will join legend Kelly Slater in the second round after both were toppled in their opening round three-man heats.
Slater, the 11-time world champion, was the first of the big names to go down after finishing last in a heat won by Australian Mitch Crews in one-metre waves.
Fanning also finished last in his heat, won by American Kolohe Andino.
For rookie Crews, a critical barrel notched him a 7.57 wave to move into a lead he never relinquished in the heat.
The Gold Coaster couldn’t have been happier to have claimed a maiden opening-round heat win on the world tour.
“Stoked to get my first round one win and hopefully this is the first of many,” Crews said.
Fanning will now face Brazil’s David do Carmo in a do-or-die second-round match-up while Slater is up against another local in Peterson Crisanto.
There was no drama for 2012 world champion Joel Parkinson, who scored 13.67 out of 20 to win his opening-round heat and move straight into the third round.
Other Australians to win on Wednesday (Thursday AEST) were Taj Burrow and Josh Kerr.
World championship leader Gabriel Medina also made a great start to his home event, scoring a 14.53 to breeze into the third round.
In the women’s, five-time world champion Gilmore was narrowly beaten by compatriot Laura Enever, whose two-wave total of 11.53 pipped Gilmore’s 9.60.
Gilmore had held an early lead in the heat but NSW surfer Enever’s 6.83 wave proved enough to get her through to the third round.
“I was trying and trying and finally I got a six,” Enever said.
“Everyone was just trying to do what they could. I didn’t know what to expect from Steph, so I was just trying to do my own thing and it worked out.”
Other Australians to reach the third round included Tyler Wright, Nikki Van Dijk and Sally Fitzgibbons.
Defending world champion Carissa Moore was also successful, edging New Zealand’s Paige Hareb by 0.77 to win their heat.
Gilmore will headline the sudden-death second round heats, taking on Brazil’s Silvana Lima while Queenslander Dimity Stoyle takes on American Alessa Quizon.